This is totally unbelievable. What is it with these people that makes them continue to do this shit? I do not understand what the motivation is to still dope after all that has happened. From the Festina affair to Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso. These guys have thick heads and do not really comprehend what is truly at stake. They are pretty luck to ride a fucking bike for a living and earn some extra wages instead of taking up a regular job in some cubicle. So when the sport that allows you to do all of this is teetering on the brink of collapse because of doping what do you do?
It is totally unbelievable, especially now that the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France is under suspicion. The sport cannot catch a break. T-Mobile is deciding whether or not to continue in the sport as are several other sponsors. Discovery Channel cannot find a replacement to continue the team, yet numb fuckheads like Vino still need the extra juice to get across the finish line first.
The Pyrenees stages of the Tour have whittled down the list of contenders for the 2007 Tour de France to two names. Michael Rasmussen is still in Yellow but has a relentless Contador ready to pounce into the lead. After yesterday’s well played out win on Plateau de Beille, Contador and Discovery Channel have a leader they feel could win the Tour de France. Contador has launched several blistering attacks to take out almost every rival except for Rasmussen.
Christophe Moraeu can be added to the list of contenders that are not in a place to contend. Team Astana struck like a cobra in the crosswinds of the transitional stage to help put Moreau out of contention in the Tour de France. Maybe Astana was exacting a bit of revenge or just happened to take advantage of an opportunity to gain back time for Vino. Whichever, any GC contender has to be on alert at all times. Resting can only be done when you get back to the hotel.
In an earlier post I mentioned the swashbuckling attacks that Alexandre Vinokourov would launch in Tour’s past. Now that Vino is hurting and pretty much out of contention for the 2007 Tour lets look at one of Alexandre Vinokourov’s finer moments, his stage win at Gap in 2003. This is the Tour where everyone seemed to be putting the hurt on Lance. Even a doped up Tyler Hamilton who was racing with a broken collarbone (that’s a whole ‘nother story) gee, who’d a thought he wasn’t doping?
Vino was a thorn in Lance’s side attacking at the craziest moments such as the descent into Gap that resulted in Joseba Beloki’s eventual career ending crash.
Alexandre Vinokourov’s charge for the Mailliot Jaune could be a lost cause for 2007. Vino could not hold the pace of the top contenders and finds himself several minutes behind. Vino has been battling injuries and the pain showed today as he was riding with the group of second flight contenders and came in over 2 minutes behind current Yellow Jersey Michael Rasmussen. The pain and devastation showed as Vino burst into tears realizing that the dream of winning the Tour is out of reach. Vino’s performances at the Tour have always been on extremes. In the past he would blister the field attacking at the most unexpected moments gaining time while competitors were sleeping. Remember that famous crash of Beloki and Armstrong in 2003? They were chasing Vino who was blitzing the field. Then he would follow tose performances with almost legendary time losses. Vino was not able to string together enough good days and luck to be a overall winner.
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Mauricio Soler gave Barloworld some great press today. The Columbian climber from the wildcard team did not have any major wins in his palmares. Just a stage at the Tour of Columbia. His solo effort up the Galibier and into Briancon was
impressive as he held off a hard charging group that swelled with most of the major contenders for the Tour.
Soler’s Barloworld team gave the ASO plenty to be happy about in the Tour so far. They’ve had several racers in breaks during the first week and now a stage win.
Michael Rasmussen took the initiative in what is seen as an annual break to gain the Polka Dot climbers jersey. The difference this year is that he was also able to snatch the Yellow Jersey. The wiry Dane dominated an early breakaway with Michael Rogers. It looked like Rogers would take over the Yellow Jersey from his young teammate Linus Gerdemann. Rogers at that point was the team leader for T-Mobile and he took an early opportunity to flex his muscles and make a claim for the Yellow. But cycling is a ver unforgiving sport. Going down the Col de Roseland descent Rogers crashed with breakaway companion David Arroyo of Caisse D’Epargne. Arroyo went over the guard rail and into the trees while Rogers crashed on the road. Arroyo looked OK, but Rogers never recovered and had to retire from the race.
AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski
On a similar descent Stuart O’Grady crashed hard and had to be taken to hospital where it was determined that he had cracked ribs but no spinal damage. Robbie McEwen came in outside the time limit and was eliminated. Any remaining Aussies in the race should count their lucky stars. The elimination happened in threes so other Aussies should theoretically be OK to keep riding.
Just when German cycling looked to be cooked along comes a new sensation to light up the sport for the Bavarians. With Jorge Jascke hogging German TV, talking about how he made his small fortune by doping while lots of great actions goes by unnoticed. The German government wants to remove funding for the World Championship in Stuttgart. All of the German’s want to kick cycling while it is down except of course the fans. German TV watchers complained about Jascke’s presence in the commentary box and are still tuning in, as well they should now that Linus Gerdemann had his coming out party today.
The Tour de France is about battles large and small. The biggest battle is for the Yellow Jersey. Then there are stage wins, then battles for other jerseys. Each of these plays out in front of the TV everyday and provides for some drama in it s own way. Today Bradley Wiggins the Londoner who “hasn’t shown much in road racing” put in a day long break that looked utterly painful. Ashame about the race radios and split times. The peloton was simply toying with Wiggins allowing him to cook in the sun as long as they absolutely needed to. The peloton was in a restful mood. This is what you get when there is no more doping, or at least not much more doping in the world of pro cycling. Speeds are slower, finishes drag out to around the noontime (6pm French time) and not a great deal of action in these transitional stages.
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Wiggins was just hoping some team would simply get on with it and catch him already. After many kilometers out front the peloton finally got down to business and dueled out a nice sprint for the fans sitting at home. The action was worth the wait with Boonen going all over the road to get a clear position and winning. Boonen looked possessed as he sprinted home. He wanted his Green Jersey back and a stage win for this Tour de France before the mountain stage on Saturday.
The Astana team took a really big blow on Stage 5 to Autun. It is a day they will want to forget and quickly. Andreas Kloden the highest placed GC man looks to have broken his coccyx along with contusion to his hip and knee. In 2003 Kloden had a similar injury and had to abandon the race. Having a fracture on the tailbone has to be extremely painful to say the least much less tending to an injury like this when you are racing 120 miles a day and the tough stages are yet to come. Astana team manager Marc Biver adds:
“It’s impossible for Kloeden to sit up in the saddle,” Biver said. “It will be very hard for him (to continue).”
The prognosis did get better this morning as cyclingnews reports:
Andreas Klöden had slightly more luck following his crash. He was initially feared to have a tailbone fracture, the same injury that forced him out of the Tour in 2003. After some more X-rays and additional tests, however, the German is cleared to ride with ‘just’ a hairline fracture. According to sid Astana’s directeur sportif Mario Kummer reported that “it’s not as bad as initially feared.” Everybody is aware, though, that the injury is quite painful for a cyclist and it remains to be seen if Klöden will be able to finish the Tour, in which he is currently ranked second.
Either way, Kloden did injure his tailbone. Whether the pain is bearable enough to continue will be the big question.
Filippo Pozzato took a very fast sprint finish into Autun on Stage 5 of the Tour de France. The final slightly uphill finish was so fast that speeds reached up to 50mph. That is some fast turning of the pedals.
The stage was being billed as a hilly challenge that would disrupt the sprinteres and possibly change the Yellow Jersey. The long break that included new Polka Dot wearer Sylvain Chavanel helped to keep things together for most of the race. With sprinteres getting shelled in the final climbs to the finish a select group of the peloton roared in for the finish. Pozzato and other “climbing” sprinters were gunning for the finish including Oscar Friere and Alessandro Ballan. This is the second stage win for the Italian who moved out of the shadow of Tom Boonen at Quick Step.